Kudlow Comes to Brownback's Defense

CNBC talk-show host Larry Kudlow and I see eye to eye on many issues, but on immigration reform we’ll have to agree to disagree. That became clear yesterday when, on his program, Kudlow confronted my colleague, Terry Jeffrey, about my attack Monday on Sen. Sam Brownback.

Brownback was one of four Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to join with liberal Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) to pass an amnesty bill disguised as immigration reform. I took the reliably conservative Brownback to task for his vote, writing, “Brownback Can Kiss’08 Run Goodbye.”

Here’s an excerpt of my piece:

Don’t take Sen. Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) seriously when he talks about running for President in 2008. Brownback’s vote today with Senate Democrats on an amnesty bill should put an end to any remote chance he had at the White House.

Kudlow, noting my column, responded on his blog yesterday with a piece titled “Bravo to Brownback”:

My good friends at Human Events are whacking Sam Brownback’s vote in favor of this pro-growth, sensible immigration reform. “Brownback can kiss ’08 run goodbye” reads one article posted on the Human Events website (while I agree with this crusading conservative newspaper most of the time on issues like tax and budget cuts, pro-life social values and a strong defense, I’m afraid I must part company with them on immigration reform).

My guess is Senator Brownback cast his vote in favor of the three-legged stool in response to humanitarian pleas from Los Angeles Cardinal Mahoney and other church groups and religious organizations who were threatened with criminal penalties by the House bill, even for humanitarian assistance to undocumented workers. Senator Brownback is a religious man (he converted to Catholicism as I did many years ago).

Guess who Kudlow had on yesterday’s show? That’s right, Sam Brownback. Joining him was Terry Jeffrey, whom Kudlow asked about my piece.

Here’s the transcript:

KUDLOW: Senator Brownback, it is good to see you alive and well. I’m trying to find the–where’s the quotation? My favorite crusading conservative newspaper, and I say that not just because Terry Jeffrey is here, but I absolutely love Human Events. But at the top of their Web site this morning, Senator Brownback, and I’ll quote: "Brownback can kiss ’08 run goodbye." End quote. Human Events.

Mr. Brownback, logic behind your vote for this immigration reform bill?

Senator SAM BROWNBACK (Republican Kansas): I think it’s the only sensible, practical, conservative way for us to move forward. I mean, if you’re–if you’re an economic conservative, you really want a pro-growth orientation in the policy, and that includes, really, immigration. If you’re a social conservative, you believe in the sanctity of human life, of every human life, no matter who they are or where they’re located. And I think what we did here was strike a balance in increasing enforcement, which is critical. And interior enforcement, which is something that’s been missing quite a bit in the overall program we’ve had in the past. And in dealing with the 11 million undocumented people that are here in the country and the future flow into this economy in a very humane, practical, sensible, way. I–I think this is the type of proposal–but now, Larry, we’re not done. This proposal needs work. It’s going to get work on the Senate floor. We’re a long way from the final product of what we need to do in immigration policy in this country.

KUDLOW: All right, Senator.

Terry Jeffrey, first of all, Mr. Brownback gets my vote because I’m pro-immigration guy. I like comprehensive reform. You don’t. What do you say to Senator Brownback? What’s the beef that your magazine has with the senator?

Mr. TERRY JEFFREY (Human Events Editor): Well, first of all, I like Senator Brownback a great deal and I think he’s very right on a lot of questions, Larry, in that we believe in free speech at Human Events. We have a lot of different voices. That wasn’t my particularly voice, although I do very strongly disagree with Senator Brownback on immigration, particularly on the immigration legislation that came out of his Judiciary Committee yesterday. And I think it’s–it’s a problem on three fronts. First is border security. It’s not clear enough–it’s not clear to me that this bill does enough to actually secure the border of the United States of America, which is the first priority. Second is what is clearly an amnesty for the 11 million or more illegal aliens who are currently in the country. Not only gives them six years of temporary work visa in the United States, but after four years, puts them on a path to become citizens. Up until yesterday, President Bush was saying he wasn’t for that. But Senator Brownback’s bill says after four years, they can start working at a permanent green card, become a citizen of the United States. And on the final score is I do not believe it accords with American values and conservative values to create a permanent guest worker program, which this would, where you bring in people in foreign countries, precisely because they’ll work for a lower wage than an American would, and essentially make them an indentured servant here that doesn’t have the same economic rights as you and me.

Thanks for reading, Larry. We love your show. It’s the best thing on CNBC, and as long as you’re hosting it, we’ll be watching.